Cyber hackers from North Korea have reportedly targeted Bitcoin exchanges in South Korea in retaliation to new sanctions imposed by the United Nations against the hermit state as of late August 2017.

According to South Korea’s Cyber Warfare Research Center, at least one Bitcoin exchange was targeted by a hacking attempt that possibly originated from North Korea.

The assault was allegedly distributed through a dedicated email campaign. If the emails are opened by employees of the targeted exchanges, the attached malware will embed itself in the company's’ computer networks. So far, there are no exact figures on the number of exchanges that were hit by the attack.

Reasons behind the  attack

It is not yet clear why North Korea would have carried out such an attack if it is, indeed, the perpetrator of the crime. There are, however, several reasons behind it, including the possible theft of Bitcoin in order to raise money for the already cash-strapped government.

According to North Korea University Professor Lim Jong-in, the decision by China to slowly turn away from North Korea’s coal exports added to the financial woes of the latter, so it needs to look for other sources of revenue.

If the rogue nation could establish a sizeable amount of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, it would not have to depend on fiat currencies to finance its programs and it can also somewhat disregard the new sanctions imposed by the UN.

Another possible reason is that the attack could be a way by the beleaguered country to send a message to its rival, South Korea, that it is angered with the latter’s support for the US-drafted sanctions.